Immune System Investigation Using Parasitic Helminths

Annu Rev Immunol. 2021 Apr 26;39:639-665. doi: 10.1146/annurev-immunol-093019-122827. Epub 2021 Mar 1.


Coevolutionary adaptation between humans and helminths has developed a finely tuned balance between host immunity and chronic parasitism due to immunoregulation. Given that these reciprocal forces drive selection, experimental models of helminth infection are ideally suited for discovering how host protective immune responses adapt to the unique tissue niches inhabited by these large metazoan parasites. This review highlights the key discoveries in the immunology of helminth infection made over the last decade, from innate lymphoid cells to the emerging importance of neuroimmune connections. A particular emphasis is placed on the emerging areas within helminth immunology where the most growth is possible, including the advent of genetic manipulation of parasites to study immunology and the use of engineered T cells for therapeutic options. Lastly,we cover the status of human challenge trials with helminths as treatment for autoimmune disease, which taken together, stand to keep the study of parasitic worms at the forefront of immunology for years to come.

Keywords: animal models; helminth; innate immunity; lymphocytes; neuroimmunology; transgenesis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Helminthiasis*
  • Helminths*
  • Host-Parasite Interactions
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Lymphocytes
  • Parasites*
  • T-Lymphocytes